Suck It Up:
To endure a period of mental, physical, or emotional hardship with no complaining. “I don’t care if you’re sad, get out there, suck it up and deal with it!” (definition courtesy of Urban Dictionary)
Okay. There it is. I said it…the phrase I really, truly don’t like. It’s a commonly used phrase, too, and I hear it often. And when I do, I cringe.
I’ll tell you…
There’s an implied meaning in the phrase “suck it up” that sends the wrong message. It tells another person that their feelings about a situation don’t matter. That you need to deal with a problem and get over it even though it may not be easily surmountable. It diminishes emotions related to a state of mind or attitude. It’s aggressive and trivializing and argumentative. And, most importantly (in my opinion), it doesn’t offer solutions. Telling someone to “suck it up” is a demand to ignore who we are as humans while also ignoring encouragement or positive movement.
As someone who practices mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, the term “suck it up” goes against everything mindfulness, meditation, and yoga teach me. Though achieving a perfect state of Zen in any of those practices isn’t practical (we’re human, and can only do so much to achieve harmony in our lives), the concepts behind those practices encourage embracing who we are and accepting our limitations. Totally opposite of what “sucking it up” tells you to do.
So yeah, I get the idea of not complaining. Or maybe not wanting to hear someone complain. But “sucking it up” is akin to telling someone to “shut up”, and that’s not a positive practice.
So what IS a positive practice then, when faced with a challenging situation?
As humans, we all want to be heard and understood. On a very basic level (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), Esteem is secondary only to Self-Actualization. In Esteem, one of the things we want is respect by others and respect of others. To “suck it up”, when you think about it, works against that very important need on an individual level as well as a relationship one.
Think about the last time someone told you to “suck it up”. How did it make you feel? Dismissed by the other person? Ignored? Pushed aside? Not heard?
Now think about the last time you told yourself to “suck it up”. How did it make you feel? Impatient with yourself? Angry? Helpless?
Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga focus on Acceptance. Yes, that’s a capital ‘A’ I put in there, and for a reason. Acceptance, which is the opposite of “sucking it up”, allows for and embraces emotions and difficulties and reactions. But it also provides you with the tools to watch and understand why those emotions and difficulties and reactions exist. The practices of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga don’t dismiss those emotions or feel impatient with your difficulties and reactions to them. Instead, they watch. They label feelings without judgment. And then they release them so that you, once again, can have clarity of mind and heart to move forward. To make decisions. To act positively. To live in compassion for self and others.
In the words of WildMind:
Mindfulness involves an attitude of acceptance, which is the opposite of either pushing an experience away or longing for an experience. With mindfulness we’re prepared to take on board how we actually are. This doesn’t mean that we want to stay the way we are at the moment. On the contrary we almost certainly will wish to move on from there, but the first step in moving on is to recognize fully where we are, and to accept it.
Recognize fully where we are. Accept. Move on.
Sounds a heck of a lot more encouraging and supportive and pleasant than “sucking it up”, doesn’t it? 🙂
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If you ask me, people who tell others to to suck it up should take their own advice since they (the one who says “suck it up”) are such insensitive and inconsiderate hooligans.
Very well said! My feelings exactly ❤
The word “offends” me–maybe because it ends in ..ck, although I’m no prude, it just sounds “bad”, like vomit and shit, etc.,and useless–what’s “it”. Having a momentary story block and can’t seem to suck it up. Sorry. Ann
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Terri, it’s also contrary to principles of psychological and emotional health and healing, which involve acknowledging our feelings so that we can work them through and come out the other side. (And as a mental health professional who’s seen what happens when that’s denied, I don’t want to hear the term “psychobabble.”) Whether you conceptualize it emotionally or spiritually or both, it’s a better way to the same outcome that suck-it-up-sayers are hoping for (an end to wallowing, whining, and despair, an ability to move on) than snapping ugly, dismissive words at someone who’s in pain.
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Thanks for the thoughts, Liz. I’m so glad you stopped by and added them — they add perspective to the point I was trying to make.
That kind of attitude is totally unhealthy and hurtful, and it’s an attitude that’s taken towards somebody who is clearly not liked, for whatever reason.
Right you are.